12 Ways to Decorate Your Bookshelves With Yard Sale Finds

Styling a bookshelf can be a lot of fun and affordable. Here are easy ways to style them with thrifted finds.


Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Show Off Your Personality

No matter what your personal style is, yard sale treasures can add beauty, personality and functionality to any shelf. Plus, it's easier than you think to get that "pin-worthy" look.


If you're a collector, being at the right yard sale at the right time can feel like winning the lottery. But beware: When it comes to displaying your collection, thoughtful editing can help you avoid a cluttered look. Rotate your favorite items periodically, and display only a few at a time; odd numbers are best. For example, three vintage cameras will look chic mixed in with books and other decor. A dozen cameras crammed onto one shelf? Not so much.

Naked Books

Old books and yard sales go together like peanut butter and jelly. For a clean look, take off the dust jackets, then stack similarly colored books to create risers for smaller accessories like bowls, trinkets or picture frames.

Functional Items

Be sure to include functional items on shelves, too. A retro fan, a small lamp or a clock is visually interesting and serves a purpose, rather than being pure eye candy.

Art + Mirrors

Small-scale art and photography are essentials for a stylish bookshelf. When arranging, be sure to layer pieces and vary the heights. Art often takes up a good amount of space, which can be a good thing if you don't have a lot of accessories to work with. It's also a smart way to add color and life into the mix.

Sculptural Items

Keep an eye out for anything sculptural to give shelves an artsy vibe, whether it's a large colorful vase, a unique ceramic figurine or a rustic bowl. These look fantastic nestled between books, and heavier items can even double as unique bookends. Even a kitschy item can be chic — just spray-paint it in a fun, on-trend color.

Grouping Like Objects

Even the simplest items will look chic and purposeful when they're grouped together. The key is not to go overboard and choose odd numbers. This is a great way to decorate on a budget.

Vintage Office Equipment

Whether it's an old typewriter (hello, writers!) or an adding machine (hello, accountants!), vintage office equipment is often the right size to fit on shelves and helps personalize your space beyond the usual family photo montage.

Unexpected Containers

Use petite trays and cups to wrangle smaller items like office supplies or jewelry. They're also perfect for small floral arrangements.

Repurposed Bowls

Skip the usual clay pot and look for colored, patterned or textured bowls. Whether it's a repurposed salad bowl for your trailing pothos plant or a dessert bowl for your succulents, a yard sale is the best place to pick up one-of-a-kind planters.

Conversation Starters

A yard sale can yield some very interesting finds. An unusual item that speaks to you can be just the thing to liven up a too-serious bookshelf and start an interesting conversation at your next gathering.

Baskets + Boxes

Baskets and boxes not only add texture and color, they're a clever way to store crafting supplies, games or small toys out of sight. Keep an eye out for vintage sewing or picnic baskets with lids and handles.

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